Wolverine Facts

Wolverine Profile

The Wolverine, or Wolverene, is from the family Mustelidae and is the largest land dwelling species from that family.

The Wolverine is a muscular and stocky carnivore which actually resembles a small bear. Wolverines are found in remote areas in the Northern Hemisphere with the majority of them in Northern Canada, Alaska, the Nordic countries of Europe, western Russia and Siberia.

Wolverine Facts

Wolverine Facts Overview

Habitat: Remote boreal forests & alpine tundra
Location: Northern Canada, American State, Alaska, The Nordics, Russia & Siberia
Lifespan: 5 – 13 Years
Size: 65 – 110cm (26 – 42 in)
Weight: 20 – 71 pounds (10 – 32 kg)
Color: Dark black, brown & tan
Diet: Carnivore. Deer, porcupines, squirrels, chipmunks, beavers, marmots, moles, gophers, rabbits, voles, mice & much more.
Predators: Gray wolf & bears
Top Speed: 30 kph (20 mph)
No. of Species:
Conservation Status:
Least concern

The Wolverine has short legs, a broad, rounded head with short rounded ears and small eyes. Although the legs are short, the Wolverine has large paws that contain five toes. The paws also have crampon-like claws.

The animal itself has a plantigrade posture which permits it to easily climb up and over cliffs, even particularly steep ones, snow-covered peaks and trees.

The fur on a Wolverine is thick and oily and is dark in color. It is also highly hydrophobic which means it resists frost. It is because of this that hunters and trappers look to the Wolverine hide for use as a lining in outerwear worn in Arctic conditions. The Wolverine may have a light silver colored facial mask, which has distinct characteristics in some of the individual animals. Plus, there may be a pale buff stripe that runs from the shoulders along the side laterally and crossing the rump. There are also some Wolverines that display white patches of hair on their throats or chests. Wolverines also have a bushy tail.

Interesting Wolverine Facts

1. The adult Wolverine is about the size of a medium dog.

Wolverines grow to a length of between 26 and 42-inches, a height of between 6 and 10-inches and can weigh between 12 and 55-pounds. A large male can weigh up to 71-pounds and an exceptionally large male can reach 77-pounds. The males are larger than females by about 30-percent. The Eurasian wolverines are said to be even larger than the North American variety with average weighs of 44-pounds. As an example, the Wolverines found in northern Canada range in weight from 22-pounds (female) to 34-pounds (male). The Alaskan Wolverines weigh 21-pounds (female) to 37-pounds (male). In Finland the average weights range from 24 to 28-pounds and in Norway the Wolverines can weigh 22-pounds for females and 32-pounds for males.

2. There is a reason why Wolverines are called skunk bear or nasty cat.

The Wolverine has a potent anal scent glands it will use to mark territory as well as during mating season. Or more accurately, when seeking the company of a female Wolverine. The odor is so pungent that the above-mentioned nicknames are commonly used in reference to it.

3. You could say that Wolverines do clean up after other animals are done feeding.

As Wolverines are scavengers, the majority of their meals are made up of carrion. This is of particular need during winter and early spring. Wolverines find carrion in a couple of ways. Sometimes they stumble upon it, they sometimes feed on it after other predators have had their fill or they may actually rob a predator. In some cases, the latter has resulted in the odd loss of a Wolverine. It goes to show that sometimes you really shouldn’t poke the bear.

4. Wolverines are also predators.

The words powerful and versatile are used to describe the predatory skills of the wolverine. It will hunt mostly for small or medium-sized mammals but will sometimes take on something much bigger than itself. It is not uncommon for a Wolverine to take down a deer as an example. However, normal catches include rabbits, mice, voles, gophers, marmots, beavers, chipmunks, porcupines and squirrels.

wolverine in the woods

5. Wolverines will actually stash food for later.

Although their eating styles has been referred to as similar to that of a glutton, when there is a lot of food available, the Wolverine will store some in a cache. The main purpose for this is to have a supply of food handy during winter when it happens to be scarce and for lactating females to maintain their strength.

6. Wolverines have natural enemies as well.

Typically a Wolverine will give up its territory should wolves arrive in the neighborhood. However, a Wolverine may defend kills against larger animals like wolves and bears. Another natural enemy of the Wolverine happens to be bears.

7. Wolverine males form long-lasting bonds with females.

Some male wolverines will live their lives without ever having a mate. Others will end up spending their lifetime in a long-term relationship with two or more females. The male in this relationship will visit the female from time to time.

8. The reproductive cycle for Wolverines has a delay in it.

Mating season for Wolverines is during the summer but the implantation of the embryo in the uterus does not take place until early winter and this delayed the fetus development stage. If food is scarce, a female Wolverine will not produce any young. Litters of two or three kits follows a 30 to 50 day gestation period and the kits grow quickly reaching adult size in a year.

9. Wolverines don’t have a very long lifespan.

The typical Wolverine will live to between 15 and 17 years in captivity where they will live only to about 10 years in the wild. The adults do a little bit of parenting with their young. The fathers will visit their offspring until they have been weaned (at about 10 weeks of age). Once the kits reach about six months old, they will reconnect with their fathers and will travel together for a period of time. Possibly to learn skills from the elder.

10. There are several subspecies of Wolverines.

Within the Gulo gulo species, there are two subspecies – the Old World and New World. There are possibly four more subspecies related to where the Wolverines live. One subspecies is limited to Vancouver Island in Western Canada, another exists only in parts of Alaska on the Kenai Peninsula. Genetic evidence points to most of the Wolverines in North America having descended from a single source.

Wolverine Fact-File Summary

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mustelidae
Genus: Gulo
Species Name:
G. Gulo